By Daniel T. Anderson
Unlike group work, where students in a class are randomly assigned to each other (usually with unfortunate and frustrating results), a college study group can be a fun, productive, and positive experience. And while study groups can take a little bit of effort to start and maintain, the good ones are worth the extra time commitment. If you're wondering what separates strong groups from the not-so-strong ones, check out these 6 signs of a good college study group:
Sign #1: People are nice
It might be underrated, but having nice, respectful people in a study group is essential to having the group provide a positive experience for everyone. No one likes to meet with a bunch of jerks — even if they're smart jerks — if they don't need to. Consequently, being nice, being respectful, and being kind can go a long way in making a study group a good one.
Sign #2: Everyone carries equal weight and is willing to collaborate
This may not be true in one specific session; some folks undoubtedly will have different strengths than others do. Ideally, however, over the long-term life of the group, everyone will pitch in equally, be willing to help, and use their strengths whenever possible.
Sign #3: People show up on time and show up regularly
People will inevitably miss here and there, of course, but overall, all group members need to show up on time and consistently if the group is going to work. The point of the group is to improve everyone's understanding of material (whether over the entire semester for a course or simply for an upcoming exam), and it's difficult to do that when people don't show up on a regular basis.
Sign #4: The group is equally effective for everyone
If some members are finding the group extremely valuable and others aren't so sure about its value, it might not be a good group for everyone after all. People should contribute — and benefit — equally. You don't want your study group to turn into a group where one person does all of the tutoring at the end of the day.
Sign #5: You feel good after meetings
If you have an effective, positive study group, you'll know it after your meetings. You'll have gained a better understanding of the material, saved yourself some time by collaborating with like minds, and perhaps even enjoyed yourself in the process. Conversely, if you're leaving meetings feeling frustrated or like you wasted your time, you might want to seek out a different study group.
Sign #6: The group is a time saver
Time is often a college student's most sacred resource, and time management can be one of the biggest challenges college students face. If you're going to be spending an hour or two (or even more) meeting on a regular basis with a study group, you're ideally doing so because it saves you time. If preparing for your study group meetings, attending the meetings themselves, and processing all you learned afterward ends up saving you time in the long run, you've found yourself a great study group — and you should stick with it.